Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of admirable, if anything is excellent and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Today we consider whatever is “lovely.” If something is lovely, it is worth embracing. It is something dearly prized. It is something that is pleasing or agreeable (Thayer). The word used for lovely in Scripture comes from the word “phileo” – the brotherly love described in God’s Word.
There are many things worth embracing. There are also many things we need to expel from our lives; thoughts and actions that we need evict from our minds and lives.
What Do You Embrace?
Among the many lovely things in this world, nature is one that often comes to mind — the world God created. Psalm 8:3-4: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?”
We can witness the loveliness of God’s creation in His intelligent design of the world — the mighty oceans, the majestic mountains, the bright stars in the cosmos. We look at God’s creation and see that which is lovely.
Music can be lovely. It can be used to glorify God, to praise Him. Literature can be lovely — writings that speak of God’s great character. Our actions can be lovely. Music, literature, and actions can also be ugly, evil, course, unpleasant, and hateful, among many other things.
We would be well served to embrace wisdom. The writer of Proverbs said of wisdom: “Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her” (Proverbs 4:8, ESV, emphasis added).
You can also embrace that which is evil. The writer of Proverbs also asks rhetorically, “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” (Proverbs 5:20, ESV).
Do you spend your time thinking about the ugly things in life, or on those excellencies that are worthy of embracing? Do you focus on what is lovely, or what is ugly?
Cultivating a Christ-Like Thought Process
I encourage you to develop a Godly thought life. Cultivate a Christ-like thought process. This is what it means to “think on these things.” We can focus on many of the ugly things in the world, or we can concentrate on that which is lovely.
A. W. Tozer said, “To be right, we must think right.” He also said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 admonishes us to develop a thought process — a positive process of reflection, focusing on that which is excellent or praiseworthy. As a result, our actions line up with God’s will. Our actions become a result of our thought process.
In the marketplace, we need to focus on those things that are excellent and praiseworthy. When we target positive things, we do not so much have to dwell on the negative. When we focus more on the positive, lovely things, we naturally drown out the negative.
Alter Your Atmosphere
In the marketplace, there can be an environment that lends itself to negativity, gossip, course joking, hatred, and selfishness.
You can make help promote a proper environment in the workplace by focusing on and speaking about that which is lovely. You can help cultivate an atmosphere by pointing out the beautiful things — those positive, excellent and praiseworthy things which should be promoted in the workplace. Point out the affirmative, lovely characteristics and actions of others. Speak lovely words.
Earlier I encouraged you to cultivate a Christ-like thought process. Here’s a good exercise to help you do so: make a list of things that you should embrace, as well as a list of things you need to evict from your life. If something is lovely, it’s worthy of embracing. If something is ugly, it needs to go! If it is lovely, think on that!